I was watching a cooking show on T.V. the other day and the chef was making a deep dish pizza using a cast iron skillet. As my mouth watered from the delicious looking pizza with tasty toppings, I wondered what ever happened to my cast iron skillet. Now it was a quest to find it and recreate the delicacy I was watching.
I dug through my cabinets and there, in the bottom, way in the back, lay my sturdy skillet. After digging it out, I found that it had not been properly cleaned. I now need to clean and season it before cooking anything.
If you find yourself with a rusty or dirty cast iron pan, don’t worry, there are simple tips to get your skillet back in shape. Here is what you will have to do:
Cleaning Cast Iron
Do not use soap and water…ever! Instead, place the pan on the stove and boil some water in it. Let it soak for a while. When food particles start to loosen, turn the heat off. Use an oven mitt and pour out the water.
Wipe out with a paper towel. Never use Brillo pads (or any scouring pad) or any abrasive cleaners on cast iron.
Remove Caked on Food
- Use a plastic spatula to scrape hard packed food residue and dirt.
- Pour 1 cup of rock salt in the skillet and heat the pan on low. Put on some oven mitts and scour the dry pan with the rock salt and a dry cleaning rag to loosen bits of caked on food. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Now you should have a clean cast iron skillet. Make sure to dry it thoroughly with a paper towel before moving on to the final step.
Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet
If you had to aggressively clean your skillet with the methods above, you will have to re-season it to keep foods from sticking. Here’s how it is done:
- Preheat the oven to 400-500 degrees
- Wipe the inside of the skillet with a very thin layer Crisco (or other type of lard)
- Bake for an hour or more until the pan stops smoking.
- Remove from oven and wipe excess oil from the skillet
The key to keeping even an old skillet in great shape is to not over clean and NEVER use any type of soap or soak it in water.